Trouble Chewing? Can’t Eat? Dental Implants Can Fix That.

added on: May 7, 2019

Dining out with friends and family is good for body and soul. Being able to gather and talk and laugh nurtures us from the inside out.

Humans were designed to be social creatures. Language skills are suspected to have originally formed to be able to communicate as groups. Studies show that the need for social involvement is also a component of our health and longevity.

In a June 2017 article in the NY Times, (Social Interaction Is Critical for Mental and Physical Health: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/well/live/having-friends-is-good-for-you.html) a nine-year study tracked nearly 7,000 adults in Alameda County, CA from 1965. It found that those who were essentially disconnected socially were three times more likely to die than those who had a strong social network.

In another study of over 2,300 males who had survived heart attacks, findings showed those with strong social connections had only a quarter of the risk of death within the following three years as those without regular social interactions.

Researchers have even noted that having an unhealthy lifestyle (such as smoking, lack of exercise, obesity) made less difference in lifespan when the individual had close social ties than those without.

As a dentist, we see how a healthy smile plays an important role in overall health. One of the reasons I support community functions in Shelby Township (through Shelby Twp. Parks & Recreation) and Macomb County is because of the positive interactions that come from these activities. Seeing people enjoy community involvement, we believe, is simply part of a healthy lifestyle.

For people who have unstable dentures or partial dentures, eating out with friends and family can be uncomfortable situations. Trying to bite, chew, and eat comfortably when denture or partials move creates awkwardness and fear of embarrassing moments.

Because most gatherings include food, it is no surprise that people who have unstable dentures are more prone to decline invitations out. Studies have shown that long-time denture wearers eat out less, wear less make-up, take more medications, and have more gastrointestinal problems than people who have their natural teeth.

By the age of 74, 26 percent of American adults have lost all of their natural teeth. (https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/adult_older.htm). Because tooth loss is so common, the problems associated with removable dentures and partials are unfortunately experienced by a large segment of our population.

Common complaints of dentures include movement while eating, which causes uncomfortable rubbing on tender gum tissues. Sore spots can occur that are especially sensitive to certain foods and hot/cold. Seeds or bits of nuts can become lodged between the denture and gums, piercing uncomfortably into gum tissues.

Denture adhesives and pastes are designed to “secure” a denture. Yet, there is only a certain level of help they lend. Eventually, and with certain foods, the challenge is too great. I’ve had denture wearers tell me they had to give up thick, chewy bagels. Beef and pork has to be cut into tiny pieces for some people to be able to eat. Some raw fruits and vegetables become “no-no’s” for many, including celery, carrots, and apples.

While a denture or partial can replace the presence of teeth above the gums, without tooth roots, they can become “slippery,” “wobbly,” and “rocky” — all terms I’ve heard used by long-time denture wearers. Yet, why does a denture that fit well when first made begin to move and slip while eating? The problem actually lies beneath the gums.

When natural teeth are held by the upper or lower jaw bone, they enjoy the support and stability of a solid mass of bone. By the same token, the jaw bones are nourished and nurtured by the presence of these tooth roots. When teeth are missing from the bone, the jaw bones begin to shrink. This causes the “arch” where natural tooth roots were once held to flatten out.

This arch (or “ridge”) is also what supports a denture. The gum-colored portion of a denture is custom-designed to conform to each individual’s arch. However, as the arch loses height, the fit becomes less and less secure. More-frequent applications of denture pastes are needed. Relines are needed to try to refit the denture to the individual’s declining arch.

Of course, along with the change in the fit of a denture comes adjustments in lifestyle. Food choices must change to softer foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. Fresh foods must now be cooked to a softer consistency. Laughter becomes overshadowed with concern over slips. And, with these worries, invitations are not as readily accepted; staying home is safer. Avoiding embarrassment becomes a deciding force in activities.

With dental implants, all this goes away. Because the implant is positioned into the jaw bone, replacement teeth are held securely for biting and chewing stability. Food choices can include those you love and those that are healthy. Eating out with friends and family are pleasurable again. Hearty laughter and close conversations occur without worry. And, meeting friends for coffee and enjoying a seeded bagel? Go for it!

As an implant dentist, I often see patients who have avoided dental implants because of cost. They assume that dental implant treatment will be too expensive. Yet, many people are surprised to learn they need only 4 to 6 dental implants to secure an entire arch of non-removable teeth (all upper or all lower).

Learn your options and the actual costs during a no-cost private session. During this time, I’ll discuss the types of implants that may work best for your needs and discuss treatment fees. We can also have you meet with our Financial Coordinator while you’re here, if you like. She can explain payment plans that break the total fee into easy monthly payments, most that are interest-free.

Call our Shelby Township dental office at 586-739-2155 to schedule, or tap here to begin.